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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

AGAPE SAFARIS

Uganda is a wonderland in all senses from the mighty King Kong that rule the impenetrable forest of Bwindi to chimpanzees that are our closest cousins. Gorilla trekking is such a thrilling primate experience that any visitor on Uganda safari shouldn’t miss out. Though gorilla trekking is a very captivating activity, it is important to plan well your trip through Wild Uganda Safaris a local tour company with hands on expertise to plan this once in a lifetime experience. Before you embark on this life changing adventure, you need to be well-prepared and that is why the tips provided below will guide you appropriately as you plan your visit to the gorillas in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

Where to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

With fewer than 1004 mountain gorillas that still exist on earth today, Uganda is a home to half of all these massive creatures making it one of the only three countries in the world where mountain gorilla trekking is conducted. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in two national parks. The are 18 gorilla families that have been habituated and already set for tourism purposes, 17 of which are tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and only 1 is found in Mgahinga National Park.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

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Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

This magnificent verdant swathe across the steep ridges of the Albertine Rift Valley is home to nearly half of the world’s population of the mountain gorillas. This ancient rainforest is one of the few forests in Africa to have flourished throughout the last Ice Age. The national park has 90 mammal species, including 11 primates, of which the black-and-white colobus, with its lovely flowing white tail, is prominent.

In Bwindi National Park, gorilla trekking starts from anyone of its 4 major trekking regions;

    • Ruhija sector in the east which comprises of gorilla families such as Mukiza, Oruzogo, Bitukura, Kyaguliro;
  • Buhoma region in the north and consists of gorilla groups like Habinyanja, Katwe, Mubare and Rushegura;
  • Nkuringo area in the southern part has groups such as Christmas, Nkuringo and Bushaho
  • RushagaRegion which has habituated families such as Kutu, Bikingi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye, Rwigi, Bweza, Nshongi and Mucunguzi gorilla group.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is set in the extreme southwestern side of the country about 8-10 hours’ drive from Entebbe or Kampala. The Park covers the northern slopes of the three northernmost Virunga Volcanoes: Mt. Muhavura (4,127 m), Mt. Gahinga (3,474 m), and Mt. Sabinyo (3,645 m).

The Park is about 10 km south of Kisoro and is bordered to the south by the Republic of Rwanda and to the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo. . In this park, tourists can join a 3 day gorilla tour in Mgahinga any time of the year. Within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Nyakagezi gorilla group is the only habituated gorilla family set for visitors to trek.

Looking at an adult male Silverback as he stares at me

Best time to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking in Uganda can be done any time of the year. Uganda experiences two significant seasons; the dry and wet season. Visitors intending to trek mountain gorillas should put in mind that gorilla tracking is an intensive experience that can take the whole day. The guide leads you through the gorilla’s world, explaining aspects of their ecology and behavior along the way.

The dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda when the ground is dry. It starts in June, July, August, September and December, January, February. During the dry season, the habitat is kept drier and makes it easier for trekkers to hike through dense vegetation and steep slopes to search for mountain gorillas unlike during the wet/rainy season when there is plenty of rainfall which makes the ground muddy and slippery.

The wet season is also considered as low season and starts in March, April, May and October, November. The advantage with trekking mountain gorillas during the wet or rainy season is that there is plenty of forage for these great apes to depend on and visitors can take fewer hours since they do not move to further distances to search for what to feed on in the course of the day.

Obtain your gorilla permit early enough

Given the high demand for gorilla permits, you are advised to secure your gorilla trekking permit at least 6 months before you set off for your actual trek most especially if you are looking to taking a gorilla safari during the peak months of June – September. In Uganda, gorilla permits cost $600 per person-for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and UGX 250000 for East African residents. You can secure one through a trustworthy, reliable ground tour operator in Uganda or through reservation office at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). In case you wish to embark on gorilla habituation experience, you need $1500 to help you secure permit which gets you the whole day and 4 hours of magical encounter with mountain gorillas.

A Silverback Mountain Gorilla

GORILLA HIGHLANDS

Pack appropriately but light

When packing for gorilla trekking in Uganda, consider essential items first. What shouldn’t miss out in your packing list are; waterproof hiking boots, waterproof day pack, insect repellents, rain jacket/poncho, camera with no flash light and should be good to help you capture clear pictures, binoculars, long sleeved shirt/t-shirt, trousers, sweaters, sun glasses, hat, bottled water, energy giving snacks, first aid kit and many others. While planning a 7 day Uganda gorilla safari, the above guide comes in handy as you will be viewing lots of other wildlife.

Physical fitness

A trek to see mountain gorillas requires you to be physically well and most importantly, maintain your physical fitness before embarking on actual trek.  A gorilla trek in Uganda can last you about 2-6 hours and it involves hiking through the dense vegetation and steep slopes while in search for mountain gorillas.

Please be in the know that mountain gorillas live in high elevation and because of this; you need adequate drinking water and some energy giving snacks as energy boosters and do not forget hiking stick to help you while on hike. Walking sticks can be got at the park headquarters or safari lodge. Besides, hiring a porter is not bad if you do have heavy luggage. They can help carry luggage and let you enjoy your adventure. Porters are around at the park headquarters and can be hired at $10-$20.

Dressing code

When considering what to wear during gorilla trek, it is better if you have environmentally friendly clothes. Avoid shouting colors and most importantly, have long sleeved shirts or t-shirts, trousers, rain jacket-to protect you in case it rains.

A gorilla family

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Pay keen attention during briefing

Before embarking on actual trek, you will be briefed on the set rules and regulations that you have to observe while on gorilla trek. They include among others;

  • Keep a distance of about 7 meters away from gorillas at all times. Mountain gorillas share about 98 percent of their DNA with humans making them our closest relatives and also to be very susceptible to human infectious diseases.
  • Stand still in case the gorilla charges and avoid direct eye contact with gorillas.
  • Do not use flashlight camera and in case your camera has, please turn it off before you begin taking photos of these creatures.
  • Only persons above 15 years are allowed to trek gorillas.
  • Only one hour is given to you to have magical encounter with gorillas.
  • Do not go to trek mountain gorillas if you are sick-please cover your mouth in case you are coughing and nose when sneezing.
  • Leave the habitat the way you found-in case you wish to help yourself please burry human wastes at 30 centimeters deep.
Tourists hiking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park

BWINDI BACKPACKERS LODGE

Conclusion

With the above tips, we wish you a memorable visit to see gorillas in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, a country with lots of captivating experiences. It is important to put these tips in mind during the time of planning your next trip so that you can enjoy a truly African Experience not to be found anywhere else in the world! To spice your Uganda safari adventure, there are lot of other interesting attractions to include in your itinerary including traditional game viewing safaris in savanna national parks, chimpanzee tracking, mountaineering, bird watching, sport fishing and simply viewing the rich scenic beauty of Uganda.

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Justo Nov 18, 2019

Safaribookings
I went on an 11 day safari visiting Kampala, Jinja, Lake Mburo NP, Bwindi NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Kibale NP. Communications with Ngoni were prompt and easy from the start. As soon as I made my booking, Sedrick contacted me through WhatsApp and guided me through the rest of the process. Leading up to the tour he made sure I was well-prepared to begin. He was always very clear and friendly. Service was exceptional. I had the pleasure of going on this safari with three members of Ngoni's staff - Sedrick, Nelson and Joel. These guys made my comfort their priority from the moment we met. Whether it was checking if I was okay with the accommodations or making sure I always had a bottle of water, I always felt like I was being well taken care of. Nelson is an excellent guide. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of Uganda was extensive, always able to answer any questions I had and was eager to teach - it's obvious that he has a great love for his country and it's environment and is eager to share this love with his clients. My experience with Ngoni and Uganda surpassed all expectations I had. Absolutely amazing, and thanks to the guys at Ngoni it feels like a new home - can't wait to come back and visit. Webale, brothers!

Stephany Aug 13, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .